NICE Initiative for Female Entrepreneurship

Unplugging in Life Helps You Reconnect with Your Inner Entrepreneur’s Landscape

"I have a theory about the human mind. A brain is a lot like a computer. It will only take so many facts, and then it will go on overload and blow up."

- Erma Bombeck

"Life is like a landscape. You live in the midst of it but can describe it only from the vantage point of distance."

- Charles Lindbergh

For some time now I’ve been monitoring misc. entrepreneurial thought leadership online in various social media posts/platforms and blogs which I follow; many of which I’ve cited here and in my other 2 blogs. I’ve tried to contribute to the conversation, while staying true to myself; my own inner landscape. The one that prompted me to write my book The NICE Reboot, and start blogging in general. 

As I wrote in my latest Wordpress post: 

Today’s  startup culture is fiercely competitive; a show of both financial and psychological warfare. Added to the mix is the increasing need for technologically savvy, multidirectional marketing, using social media. The danger in that is that people can get caught up in the Hunger Games mentality of startup life. We need to be mindful of running the risks of:

• Losing ourselves in our social media’s digital avatars and forgetting that social media is a powerful social activism tool which enables one to give back  to real people in real time

• Losing our authentic inner voice and opportunity to provide much needed thought leadership and virtual/physical mentorship both on and off “the court”

Another risk worth mentioning here is the risk of perfectionism; the topic of my latest Huffington Post article which you can read here. Today’s successful entrepreneur, especially a female one who tends to wear many hats over the course of a day, can be more vulnerable to perfectionism. Why? Because of the increased emphasis being placed on multi-tasking and multi-faceted digital avatars for social media marketing.

That’s why I am unplugging most of this week and part on the next, and taking some time off; just in time to celebrate Passover with my family and friends. So that I can reconnect with them…..and with myself. The better version of myself I have worked so hard to build and share with others. The echoes of past versions still heard within my inner landscape…..when I stay still enough and quiet enough to really hear.

It’s time for me to actively fight perfectionism and my own tendency to continuously multi-task; sometimes to my own detriment! It’s time for me to do a digital detox by reclaiming some time for myself, and for those in my inner circle who’ve waited patiently for me to disconnect from all my digital avatars and just be. 

I believe in the power of technology, and of social media in particular, to promote meaningful change; economically, educationally, and socially. I am humbled and honored by all the lessons I’ve learned, diverse people I’ve connected with online, and mutual admiration societies I’m part of, especially on LinkedIn and Twitter

At the same time, I believe in balancing humanity and technology, especially social technology. I believe in being balanced in general. It’s something that helps us cognitively harness time and be more productive. This is especially crucial for startup entrepreneurs. Why? Because our  style of working and mindset are both affected by an imbalance re: work/life when we “hit the wall”. 

This month is Autism Awareness Month, and as an Autism Specialist/speech therapist turned entrepreneur, I am very familiar with the concept of sensory overload. I am also a public advocate of  one of its antidotes-proactive environmental modifications….AKA “unplugging”, sometimes even before it’s really needed. I often advocate for down time from technology, something that is needed more and more these days, if you ask me. 

Here’s to going “off the grid” and getting out from behind the digital avatar and getting reintroduced to a new one….the one in your inner landscape. Happy trails! Happy Holidays! 

Best,

Penina

Reading Helps You Hone & Heed Your Inner Entrepreneur’s Voice

"The silence in our lives is under assault on all fronts….We are wired, plugged in, and constantly catered to….We drown out the big but simple questions in life with the simplistic sound bites our 500 channel- and nothing-on universe".

— Arianna Huffington, Thrive

"Manet, Degas, Cézanne,Monet, Renoir, Pissarro…. Together this group of remarkable painters would go on to invent modern art with the movement known as Impressionism. They painted one another and painted next to one another, and supported one another emotionally and financially. Today, their paintings hang in every major art museum in the world. “

— Malcolm Gladwell, David and Goliath

Every Friday late afternoon until late Saturday night, (usually Sunday morning), I engage in a ritual which people have begun calling “the digital detox”. I’ve had to do it because I observe Sabbath, and because my faith calls for it. I want to do it because I observe the positive impact it has on my physical and mental health, and my soul calls for it. Engaging regularly in a “digital detox” makes me become more productive, instead of only being busy. It makes me better appreciate technology and all the provided economic, social communication opportunities, and thought leadership, as well as the opportunity to exercise my brain’s episodic memory banks through personal experiences such as reading and getting together with family/friends. 

The result? I get to regularly indulge in feeding my own perspective i.e. Theory of Mind, and in strengthening my own “inner” voice and entrepreneurial mindset. I get to hear my own “inner” voice more clearly and consistently, reminding me to stay curious and to stay humble. So that I take self-introspection and self-learning more seriously, which will lead to better problem solving; something entrepreneurs need to hone for innovation and promoting change. So that I take obstacles and setbacks in my entrepreneurial journey less seriously; something entrepreneurs need to do to remain optimistic when pitching, and to prevent burnout

I just finished reading 2 books that have been on my radar, and are on my Amazon Collections List; Thrive and David and Goliath. Both were great reads for different reasons, and I gained much food for thought about the psychological and intellectual regimen and “self-talk” entrepreneurs need to engage in, to stay sane and succeed in today’s Digital Age. Together, both authors reminded me of the importance of learning to become a better Me, so that we can better transition to being a We as needed. The two quotes above really capture the essence and the voices of both authors and what they stand for. 

I even wrote a review of Thrive for Amazon, which you can read here

It takes a lot more effort in today’s iEra to really become a spiritual and psychological Me, with all that entails. It’s harder to develop and heed one’s “inner” voice, which tends to get drowned out by the cacophony of voices clamoring for our attention online. It’s harder to authentically share our “inner” voice with others on visual posts and/or 140 character sound bytes via social media, which is why I blog. I am a vocal advocate for more women bloggers, and more thought leadership oriented bloggers to join the entrepreneurial space.  This interesting infographic from Coca Cola partially makes my case. I believe that this blogpost I did while wearing my speech therapy hat for The Friendship Circle Blog, An Open Letter From a Child with Autism, finishes the job. I hope you’ll share it this month, which is known as Autism Awareness Month, and help a child with Autism be better understood and treated. 

My diverse work “in the trenches” as an Autism Specialist/speech therapist and public speaker have taught me the value in developing and heeding my “Me”, my own “inner” voice. It’s something I write of in my book, The NICE Reboot, and touch on in my writings here, on Wordpress, and in The Huffington Post. It’s why I am taking the time I need to methodically, correctly, and successfully build the train tracks needed to launch The NICE Initiative. One needs to fully become “Me” in the space they occupy, before they can become “We”. In my case, it means taking the time to more fully integrate into the business/entrepreneurship arena, after spending so much time in the educational and healthcare ones. It means recalibrating the quality of my actions, not just the quantity. 

Reading is one of my passions, and one of the most important activities an entrepreneur can engage in (by then pairing it with action) to learn the “lay of the land” today in order to hone one’s Theory of Mind and intellect. Why? Both need to be used to positively discern and exploit patterns to promote change; socially, economically, and educationally. Staying current is thus a must, in order to understand and best practice “the politics of the playground” and find/cater to/disrupt  the niche market you will target as an entrepreneur for maximum impact.

Honing your ability to smoothly transition between being a Me and We as needed will enhance your leadership skills, your chances of success, your ability to take constructive criticism well, and leave your mark. 

I am an avid reader and have long loved libraries. I’m so pleased to read that others do too, and that they are holding their own. They are indeed easily accessible and versatile incubators where one’s landscape and entrepreneurial mindset can be nurtured and flourish. Everyone in entrepreneurship, especially those who have a digital footprint and content marketing strategy, advocate for storytelling. To provide emotional resonance and connect the “tribe” as Seth Godin would say.

I say that reading the story of others and sharing them, helps you also connect with yourself, so that your are continually growing in knowledge and self awareness. So that you heed your own “inner voice” and crack the pottery in your mind containing outdated memories of thoughts and deeds and ask “What if?”. Then you are truly well on your way to becoming a bona fide entrepreneur!

Good luck with your journey! Please feel free to comment and/or Email me which books are on your radar and/or have helped you develop your inner entrepreneur’s voice!

Email: Penina@niceinitiative.com

Twitter: @PopGoesPenina

Best,

Penina

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Message in a Bottle: What Startup Female Entrepreneurs Need to Know About Visuals

"No matter what message you are about to deliver somewhere….is the fact that the person sitting across the table is a human being".

— Madeleine Albright

"The medium IS the message."

— Marshall McLuhan

There are stories from days long gone, of sailors on long voyages who were afraid of being lost at sea. So they started a practice of putting messages in bottles. They poured their hearts and souls into handcrafted, intimate, and important messages to loved ones. Family and friends who were sometimes lucky enough to fish them out of the ocean and read them, and retain an echo of the emotional resonance and human connection forged over time and space.

I’ve been thinking about this, since hearing about the lost Malaysian airplane now found, as my heart goes out to the family and friends lost at sea, and as I read these heartbreaking tweets from a doting daughter to her father who is never coming home again. 

I’ve always wondered if the container, the bottle, i.e the small size of the message’s receptacle, hindered those yearning writers from fully expressing themselves. Or did the small space ensure that its occupant was a synthesis of honed verse and brevity, where messages were stripped down to basic shared truths between the author and the reader? In the end, what really got shared? Short, to the point handwritten notes? Personal drawings? Inspiration? Nostalgia? Maybe all of them?

Today’s social media encapsulates the timeless concept of a short message in a bottle, although the artist’s brushstroke and the written word are no longer the preferred medium. Visual digitalization of photos/video using social platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, YouTube, Google +, and recently Snapchat for the younger set, have all become staples of the mobile technology “information stream”, for better or for worse. Even Twitter, the ultimate virtual “message in a bottle” allowing only 140 characters per message, now allows 4 photos per tweet and photo tagging as well. 

The up-side of all this, is that the use of visuals; in television, online videos, films, and ads are all easily accessible, powerful tools for women entrepreneurs in particular to wield.

This medium, more than any other, can quickly and humorously provide lessons and calls to action in ways that today’s startup entrepreneur needs.

How? Visuals hit home uncomfortable truths about humanity, technology, politics, commerce, and the current state of equality/inequality for women in the workplace. Three great, funny, and powerful video examples of this are:

1. Ellen’s rebuttal re: the Bic for Her Pens 

2. Tess Paras, Ayana Hampton, and Haneefah Wood’s rebuttal re: Hollywood’s Lack of Diverse Roles for Women of Color, using a parody of Lorde’s Royals

3. The Pantene shampoo commercial, a rebuttal re: Labels Against Women, which I have previously shared and posted on my NICE website for a while now

Visual digitalization trends thus need to be on a female entrepreneur’s radar. So that she’s informed and prepared when using it during:  

• Elevator pitches and interviews

• Speeches and presentations 

• Digital marketing/social media posts: Giving customers/prospective clients a window into her product/service re: mission, brand, company culture, and allegiances 

What entrepreneurs need to know cannot just be taught in formalized lessons in old-fashioned classrooms. The rapidly changing outer landscape of technology, social technology, and machine learning, are all impacting on our inner landscape and visual/episodic memory. This video (which I show at my Socially Speaking™ iPad Seminars) shows how our visual modality, i.e. our visual processing iOS is being coded; one finger swipe at a time.

It will be interesting to see the long term implications on disruptive innovation, education, communication, and entrepreneurship, resulting from the increasing interest in, and dependency on, visual digitalization related technology! 

I’m specifically interested in following the groundbreaking research on  brain mapping, the thought leadership of visual advocates like Dr. Temple Grandin, a self professed “visual thinker” and TED speaker, and the awesome advances in visual effects and implications for augmented virtual reality in education, as seen in the groundbreaking film Avatar, and the terrific film Divergent, which gave me various diverse takeaways for entrepreneurs. I wrote about some of those takeaways in my two other blogposts last week, which you can read here, and here

[SPOILER] Remember the cool scene in Divergent when Tris undergoes her final test as a Dauntless initiate, and her “fear dream sequence” is shown on big screens for others to see and analyze?  

How a person views the world today, and shares visual information with those in it, are inexorably linked to their level of tech savvy, tech access,  and their level of interaction with their own/others’ digital avatar. It’s something that’s powerfully and eerily shown in Divergent, and something which needs to be discussed in social, educational, and economic forums, especially when female entrepreneurship enters the equation. 

What is the collective message in a bottle being conveyed today via social technology, especially when using the visual medium?

Where do we draw the line between social etiquette and social media marketing of our entrepreneurial service/product? Between being narcissistic vs. being self actualized and self motivated to help others, for the greater good? Between visual consumption for the sake of busyness vs. content curation to enhance innovation, creativity, and productivity in others?

People are now regularly debating the psychological ramifications of “selfies”, such as the famous Oscar celebrity selfie Ellen took at the Academy Awards this year, and this interesting infographic. People are also debating whether or not entrepreneurship can be learned, is innate, needs to be lived, and how to teach it. People are looking to more actively pursue entrepreneurship, especially women. Those interested in being their own boss and enhancing their work/life balance, seeking second revenue streams, and exploring avenues to promote social causes.

It’s why 2014 has been ushered in with more hope and optimism than the previous few years. It’s why 2014 has been dubbed The Year of the Female Entrepreneur. It’s why I wrote and just published my book, The NICE Reboot. You can hear this recent podcast from the School for Startups Radio Show with host Jim Beach, for more on all this.  

There are many “messages in bottles”, especially contained within visual mediums, that women entrepreneurs can find online and in real time to help them help themselves. To help them help others. To create their own blueprint and trajectory. In light of recent events, including the unfortunate decision to notify families of lost passengers from the ill-fated Malaysian flight via text message, and the understandable outcry, it is clear that women need to multi-task and juggle all those balls in the air, now more than ever.

There is an increasingly urgent need to balance humanity and technology, visuals with words, and one’s inner voice with the cacophony of voices of others. Why? So that we can authentically, positively, meaningfully, and consistently craft and share our own unique “message in a bottle” that becomes our legacy, for others to receive and pass on. 

What’s your message in a bottle?

Below is my recent entry for this contest, which ends 3/31/14. I want to sincerely thank my wonderful virtual mentors and terrific thought leaders on female entrepreneurship, Diane Bertolin, Lynn Bardowski, and Rieva Lesonsky for all publicizing this contest and notifying me about it on Twitter and Google+. 

(There’s a special place in Heaven for women who generously give their support to other women in entrepreneurship, business, communal work, and when competing in the dating game for that matter!)

The NICE Initiative Message in a Bottle- My Five Tips:

  1. Embed a social entrepreneurship mindset into your mission/business plan from the start so that YOU stay balanced and your trajectory is more long term and global, since it’s about purpose AND profit, more methodically attracting like-minded collaborators, mentors, networkers, and employees etc.
  2. Carefully cultivate creativity for better innovation/problem solving. Use iPads for better workflows re: content curation. Use these free iOS Apps: Zite, TechWire, Alltop, Digg, Pocket, Evernote, Coursera, Wordpress, Tumblr, Twitter, LinkedIn, Simple Mind+, Idea Flight, and PDFree.
  3. Have a consistent social media presence. Have a helpful, optimistic, and often humorous “vibe” online for better networking, branding, and emotional resonance with others who may become clients/refer clients. Post properly i.e. observing rules of conduct and protecting your digital reputation.
  4. Seek out reverse-mentorship opportunities, OUTSIDE of your industry. Actively seek out ways to barter your service/product to provide thought leadership to a diverse network of people. It fosters collaboration, innovation, empathy, problem solving, and leadership skills.
  5. Regularly reframe success/failure in your mind while launching your service/product; psychologically and intellectually. True work/life and humanity/technology balance in today’s startup culture hinges on mindset, on understanding the importance of optimism and learning impacting the JOURNEY.

Best,

Penina

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The Care and Feeding of a Successful Female Entrepreneur Revisited: Mindset

"The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind."

 - Maya Angelou

"To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives."

- Henry David Thoreau 

I have been pondering what makes for a successful female entrepreneur’s mindset for a while. What behaviors should we make habits? What should we be learning? What actions should we be taking? What advice should we be heeding? I have been questioning the care and feeding of successful women entrepreneurs since I began my own journey in 2010. It’s why I wrote my book, The NICE Reboot. It’s why I created this book trailer for my Vimeo channel. it’s why I am working on lining my ducks in a row so that I can launch The NICE Initiative.

In light of my last post here on Tumblr, my post about success in entrepreneurship for The Huffington Post, and my Wordpress post about harnessing time (something successful and productive entrepreneurs do), I felt it appropriate to revisit this topic and point out 3 things I believe successful women entrepreneurs do. 

1. They sequentially make a PLAN. They methodically and strategically turn their dreams into a reality in a balanced and practical manner.  

2. They intentionally boost CREATIVITY. They think “outside the box” and act on it, so that new habits and behaviors ensue. They engage in the pursuit of different experiences to learn and grow. They curate content and read, read, and read some more. To discern patterns and develop leadership skills. 

3. They carefully craft a COLLABORATIVE “vibe” online and in real time. They monitor and cultivate business communications using humor, especially for social media platforms. They make collaboration part of their working and learning DNA. They also make it part of their entrepreneurial purpose, by embedding social entrepreneurship into their mission for the greater good. 

Women in business today understand the need to do the above three things. We understand that creative planning and collaborative networking can lead to better branding and communal customer loyalty. We also understand the power of thought leadership, mentorship in all its incarnations, and harnessing technology. The world is changing, and the business world will have to change as well. Education is no longer confined to the classroom. Entrepreneurship is no longer a male domain. Social media has forever changed the way we do things in general, and has actually made these 9 things obsolete

it will be interesting to see how the next few years change the way we approach the care and feeding of women entrepreneurs. I hope to help many women get front row seats!

Best,

Penina

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Do We Really Need Another Female Entrepreneurship Blog and Other Surprising Questions in 2014

"When you stop learning, stop listening, stop looking and asking questions, always new questions, then it is time to die."

- Lillian Smith

"Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers."

- Voltaire

Readers who have been following me online(and I sincerely thank you for that, and hope it continues!) especially here on Tumblr know that I am pretty active on social media (check out my two About.Me pages here and here,  and LinkedIn Page for my complete digital footprint) while wearing all my hats.

You know that I blog about entrepreneurship, usually female entrepreneurship, on Wordpress and in The Huffington Post as well. I usually write about women’s issues, balancing humanity with technology, creativity, innovation, pop-culture, and innovation; all part of the entrepreneurial process in today’s startup culture. It is all an offshoot of concepts, ideas, outlooks, and experiences I have had; personally and professionally. It is an extension of some of what I have written about in my book, The NICE Reboot

I was therefore actually surprised today when well meaning, seemingly educated people (some of whom have known me for years) asked me today why I write not 1 but 3 blogposts a week about “all that stuff”.

Is it a marketing ploy to sell my book and launch The NICE Initiative? Is it a form of existential therapy? Is it a way to grow my network and increase my friendships with other likeminded women across the globe? Is it for profit or purpose i.e. to provide virtual mentorship and pay it forward?

Maybe the answer I SHOULD give is….it’s a little of all four. But I’ve never been a fan of the SHOULD game. It interferes with a person’s authenticity and aspirations for self actualization; both of which are crucial to an entrepreneur’s success, no matter which gender.  Besides, I ascribe to the Ben Franklin school of thought; also applicable to both genders:

"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."

Historically, women have been known and/ or encouraged to be risk averse; something still seen (albeit less) in the entrepreneurship space today. I think that this is one of the reasons women are attracted to entrepreneurial endeavors that involve profit AND purpose. We are biologically hardwired to be risk averse (nature) yet drawn to collaborative problem solving and calls to action (nurture) for the greater good. As I wrote in my book and on my NICE Website

"We women are hard wired to measure overall job satisfaction and pride in our performance, by calibrating how much of a positive impact we have on community, not just ourselves! It is why we willingly wear so many different shoes over the course of our days and lives, to multi-task and make a difference. "

Unfortunately, many venture capitalists haven’t gotten the memo yet. Many still provide less funding to women entrepreneurs who pitch the same exact idea as their male counterparts. I have seen this myself, and have heard the war stories from many women I meet in my travels and follow/correspond with in cyber-space. It doesn’t help that the “good old boys club” mentality and behaviors are alive and well in startup-tech land such as Silicon Valley. If you read Michael Hayman’s disturbing article, you get the sense that it’s very much still a masculine enclave, focused on the end-product and profit more than the process, which is why the term “founder” is preferred over “entrepreneur”. 

"It is a muscular and mainly masculine world brimming with confidence. It is one where youth is the cult to be celebrated. The average age of a founder is just over 33 years old."

Yiren Lu also writes a disturbing piece on the youth oriented mindset of Silicon Valley startups and purveyors of disruptive innovation, which has implications for social entrepreneurship endeavors, especially those in which women are involved in. 

"The talent — and there’s a ton of it — flowing into Silicon Valley cares little about improving these infrastructural elements. What they care about is coming up with more web apps."

Bill Gates provides a rebuttal of sorts which was cited in Gregory Ferenstein’s post for TechCrunch. Both are still missing the point, in my opinion. 

The point of my NICE Initiative, my book, and frankly all my blogging. The point that Carol Realini makes so well in her post about female entrepreneurship entering the Exponential Age.

It’s time for outdated practices and mindsets to be put to rest, and for increased competition with Silicon Valley and the Venture Capital Male Monopoly.

Disruptive innovation and entrepreneurial success for that matter, goes beyond cloud computing as a business strategy and creating new cool and inexpensive, profitable Apps like WhatsApp, a founder’s dream Minimally Viable Product. (MVP). True disruptive innovation today involves an element of social entrepreneurship  i.e. team players; increased COLLABORATION; something needed to spur creativity and innovation, not to mention mentorship in entrepreneurship; something women do naturally because of our high emotional IQ and “purpose” quotient! 

That is why so many women are active on social media. That is why more women can and will become more active in entrepreneurship this year. That is why I try so hard to blog three times a week and weave unfolding events into a mosaic, so that a pattern emerges. One showing which trends women need to know about. One showing which truths women need to be aware of. Such as the truth about the realities of digital citizenship needed to become a better entrepreneur and a better client for an entrepreneur’s service/product. 

As Realini writes: 

"This changes everything. It creates lots of mega opportunities, but also makes it critical to raise expectations about how fast we move and how quickly we scale. And with cloud computing, mobile everywhere, social marketing and crowdsourcing, this momentum has never been so achievable since traditional barriers to building and scaling new businesses are melting away."

"In the Exponential Age smart, established companies will find ways to work with innovators vs. looking only internally for new products and services. Smart investors will make bets on women entrepreneurs. And of course, passionate women entrepreneurs will dream big, work smart, and move fast."

To answer the initial question….yes, we really need more blogs on female entrepreneurship and related issues. To provide value. To provide assistance. To provide insight. To provide thought provoking questions which get added to the collective questions being asked today. I’d like to think my posts contribute to the global conversation and online “feed”.  

Digital citizenship is a foregone conclusion today re: our global economy and accelerated and diversified education. It’s only a matter of time before more formalized content curation and protocols for a universal curriculum are implemented. We women; mothers, educators, collaborators, trend setters, and sometimes even moral and psychological compasses need to be prepared.

We need to create and read more intelligent posts for/by both men and women about skills re: humanity and technology. Ones needed to be taught in childhood, for better conflict resolution, better self awareness, and for working smarter, not harder. 

Most importantly, we need to find patterns in our own lives and positively exploit them; creating a tapestry of knowledge and actions that truly benefit humanity, and craft a legacy and metaphysical GPS for others to follow.

I believe in patterns. I don’t believe that things are random. If you have been reading any of my blogposts, it was meant to be. I hope it helped you, and that you will share my misc. writings with others,  so that our Story continues to intersect and impact on the mosaic. I’d love to know yours; so that I can learn from you too and maybe even share some of your insights in my future posts! We are all both the student and teacher in life; now more than ever. Please comment/contact me/Email me/connect with me; either on my website, LinkedIn or Twitter

We owe it to the Sisterhood; past, present, and future! 

Thanks to Alan Ristić for sharing the entrepreneur quote below on Twitter, and to Pinterest, for the photo of GPS humor.

 Best,

Penina 



In Pursuit of Women Power in Entrepreneurship: What Will It Take?

"Power is like being a lady… if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t." 

- Margaret Thatcher

"Knowledge will give you power, but character respect."

- Bruce Lee

What a busy week it’s been! Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and for those who missed it, it will come around again…and again….and hopefully bring much needed awareness and changes right up to 2035 and beyond! This month also marks Women’s History Month in the USA, a time to consider which Calls to Action (CTA) to heed, which lessons to internalize, and which liberties to pursue and advocate for. 

I touched on collective lessons women entrepreneurs need to share with others, especially those outside the United States, in my latest article for The Huffington Post. You can read it here. I even wrote A Letter to Little Girls Who Ask Why Not? And Grow Up to Become Women Entrepreneurs in my latest Wordpress post, which you can read here

If you were also going to write such a letter, or create a time capsule of female advice and snippets of present history to be opened up years from now at a women’s entrepreneur event, what would you write? 

Would you focus on recommending specific habits to foster entrepreneurship? Specific habits to foster increased work/life balance and happiness? Using more social media and more humor techniques such as Improv, to connect to others and better market your service/product? Would you advocate for being more productive? Showing more empathy and a more diverse perspective? Would you craft a unique to-do list for little girls and grownup girls to follow? Would you craft a unique to-don’t list for them to heed and stay the course? 

One thing’s for sure…..The pursuit and achievement of women power hinges on our actions to make a difference, do work that matters, and 

• Understand how to harness our own humanity and Theory of Mind

• Harness educational technology for global learning and reform

• Harness real/virtual mentorship to help guide us as we strive to unlock our potential/ the potential of others

Can we do it? Yes! It involves commitment (on several levels) to ourselves and those we are trying to reach out and help. It involves being honest with ourselves and others about the hard changes we need to make, starting now. That’s why I wrote my business book, The NICE Reboot. That’s why I’m busy working on getting ready to launch The NICE Initiative for Female Entrepreneurship.

What will it do? Provide coaching and motivational speaking about: 

  • Psychological thought leadership to help women financially succeed
  • Productive mentorship to balance humanity/technology, using the iPad for your workflow
  • Practical strategies to leverage social media using humor, visuals, and storytelling
  • Methodical frameworks for enhancing performance, creativity, and productivity

In the immortal words of Helen Keller, posted on my Twitter Wall:

"Alone we can do so little; Together we can do so much."

Who’s in?

You can learn more here

I look forward to working together with you to do something great! 

Penina

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Musings on Style and Substance in Entrepreneurship

"Education in the light of present-day knowledge and need calls for some spirited and creative innovations both in the substance and the purpose of current pedagogy."

- Anne Sullivan

"In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock."

- Thomas Jefferson

I gave a hands-on, multimedia full day seminar about iPads and Autism Intervention to a room full of special educators and parents today. The theme of substance and style came up;  about the iPad’s user interface, tonight’s televised Oscar Ceremony, and entrepreneurship. There is no question that people look to all 3 to propel and shed light on the human experience. iPads tap into our creativity, the Oscar hoopla raises questions about our individuality, and entrepreneurship taps into our spontaneity; all traits one needs to acclimate to, and accomplish within, the ebb and flow of the waters of life. 

I wrote about style in entrepreneurship in my recent series in my Wordpress Blog when I wrote about social media marketing and humor. You can read my latest post here. I wrote about substance in entrepreneurship in my latest piece for The Huffington Post, which you can read here. Both can be found in my book, The NICE Reboot.

Style has another context, as seen from the Academy Awards, and this funny quiz from the always entertaining BuzzFeed.com to help you determine which style icon you are :-)

Substance takes on new meaning, as seen from this disquieting blogpost about Google hiring practices. Both are being redefined in entrepreneurship for 2014, by our individual and collective actions and reactions re: new technology /disruptive innovation and cultural trends

It’s still unclear what the long term effects will be for female entrepreneurship re: our collective reassessment of style and substance.  Given the increasing complexity of the care and feeding of our digital avatars, I think we are in for a continued seesaw of “blurred lines” and hyper-vigilance re: the accurate portrayal of our brand and/or buyer personae. It’s a shame that women entrepreneurs still need to be concerned about their accurate portrayal, especially since Entrepreneur Barbie made her unfortunate debut. 

Here’s hoping that the internet live stream debut of The Oscars fares better! 

Best,

Penina

The Power of Human Learning Part 5: Nature vs. Nurture in Entrepreneurship

"Human nature is potentially orderly and constructive."

- Margaret Mead

"If you want to grow a giant redwood, you need to make sure the seeds are ok….and nurture the sapling."

- Elon Musk

As an educator turned entrepreneur I am well acquainted with the ongoing nature vs. nurture debate and its ramifications for human learning. For growth. For leadership. So that others learn, and grow, and lead. The debate has heated up recently in light of the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi. Every blogger, journalist, psychologist, entrepreneur, educator, and political commentator has been weighing in. I’ve decided to weigh in too, with a bit of a different spin, based on my current series here on Tumblr, which I will be wrapping up today, just like the Olympics are wrapping up. I think both venues have given us a bit more insight into the power of human learning; something I’ve been studying most of my career. 

What makes the human learning process so unique? Is it our capacity to laugh, take constructive criticism, and learn from our mistakes by honing our sense of humor; the topic of my current series on my Wordpress Blog? Is it our delicate dance of show and tell for others; something I wrote of in my latest article for The Huffington Post? Or is it the inherent potential for growth and change, hardwired into every human brain; something Lise Eliot writes about in her recent HuffPost article on Women’s Hockey? What can we learn about the nature of learning from Craig Carpenter’s post on what the Olympic Athletes Taught Me About Entrepreneurship? 

The nature vs. nurture debate has steadily gained momentum in the business world since the early 80s, when Dr. Howard Gardner PhD published his research findings dubbed The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. I wrote more about it in my book, The NICE Rebootwhen I touched on why one’s Theory of Mind and emotional intelligence matters,  I’ve lectured about it in my Socially Speaking™ iPad Seminars when I discuss learning styles, and the use of specific iPad Apps for children with Autism. There is also an interesting post by Jacob Shriar, about eight human insights re: behavior in business that’s worth a read. I just read it thanks to my Twitter gal pal and fellow behaviorist/business woman Arelene Newbigging Grady from Scotland, who continuously shares great content with me, that gives me much food for thought! 

We live in an extremely fast moving and complicated time, which demands that the nature vs. nurture debate continue and be scientifically studied some more. It also demands that we have a respite from, and an epiphany about, our continuous attempts to stay in motion, like a juggler with several balls in the air. As entrepreneurs, especially women entrepreneurs, we spend so much time on active “outbound” learning; engaging in specific behaviors designed to help us vacillate between focus and multi-tasking, conformity and being different than the pack, and being mentored in real time and online.

The result? The good news is that more women are prepared to step into the roles of both student and teacher en masse and on so many levels. The bad news is that we have less and less time for the equally important passive “inbound” learning where we can take time to increase our own Theory of Mind and ability to discern seemingly random patterns in the events/environment/actions around us, internalize those experiences i.e. observations/lessons, and use both our nurtured intellectual creativity and innate emotional/psychological nature to problem solve and create innovation; the raison d’être of entrepreneurship.

Add the clamoring voices of social media to one’s daily routine and it’s no wonder one’s inner landscape can have barren patches and one’s inner voice can be drowned out over time! That’s one of the reasons I painstakingly blog about the articles that touch me (and I save to Pocket and/or Evernote) and the books on my radar. 

it’s becoming increasingly difficult for women like me to just “be” and balance work/life to our satisfaction. So that we are more successful at balancing our humanity with our technology. So that we can bravely and humorously acknowledge the truth about our reality, in the business arena, and in the entrepreneurship arena.

What’s the solution for today’s female entrepreneur? Should we concentrate our efforts on launching a product with a quick exit strategy and IPO aspirations? Should we take an example from the Facebook acquisition of WhatsApp which shows us the dark side of the economy, where purpose is sidelined by a quick-fix of profit? As Robert Reich writes:

"WhatsApp’s value doesn’t come from making anything. It doesn’t need a large organization to distribute its services or implement its strategy."

What about the dark side of Silicon Valley? I find myself agreeing with Truan Wadwa’s take on the WhatsApp deal: 

"Few entrepreneurs want to build brands that last anymore. Silicon Valley looks down upon those who are not trying to sell out to a corporate giant as soon as possible."

Where are we going wrong? The time has come for entrepreneurs to ask this question….of each other, and themselves. 

I believe that the first step to answering this question begins with accountability to self. Entrepreneurs are not just purveyors of disruptive innovation. Their unique skill set, story, vision, mission, and transparency make them accountable to others in some ways more than the average business employee, even if they are bootstrapping. I believe that entrepreneurship today entails thought leadership, civic leadership, and meaningful leadership and mentorship that promotes purpose AND profit, real value, and human growth; educational, social, economic, and psychological.

I have written of this in my book and since I started blogging. I have been continuously sounding a CTA (Call to Action) to better balance our humanity and technology and harness both our nature and the skills which were nurtured along the entrepreneurial journey for the greater good, benefit, and education of our children and theirs. 

What kind of message is Facebook really sending with its acquisition of WhatsApp? What kind of message is conveyed in the way one mentors, hires, and fires others? I’m curious whom Mark Zuckerberg seeks counsel from. I’m interested in knowing how many entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley have mentors outside “the zone” or what makes them decide it’s time to move on and seek aid elsewhere. 

In my experience, which I write about in my book, there comes a point when one needs to embrace meaningful change and move forward, or stagnate and be overcome by inertia or worse- boredom and negativity. Few people talk or write about when to discard a mentor; in real time or online. A real time mentor is someone you’ve personally known and been invested in, who has invested in you, and the symbiotic relationship can be very fruitful. Until it’s not. That’s what makes it a double edged sword. 

Who mentored Jan Koum and Brian Acton, founders of WhatsApp? Whom have they mentored? What civic engagement and social entrepreneurship plans do they have after getting their 19 billion dollars? Can WhatsApp move beyond its potential for increased narcissistic preoccupation with  selfies and decreased productivity?

Readers, please send me any relevant posts you find! I’ve looked and haven’t seen anything besides their reaction of giddy euphoria and their rags to riches origin story!  

In light of the WhatsApp acquisition, tonight’s closing ceremony in Sochi, the long awaited arrest of El Chapo in Mexico, the passing of the oldest known Holocaust surviver Alice Herz-Sommer, and the passing of Maria von Trapp, the last sibling of Sound of Music fame, I think it’s apropos to share this excerpt from my book, The NICE Reboot: 

Ten Warning Signs-When to Discard a Mentor: If These Traits Are Repeatedly Displayed (Listed in Descending Levels of Importance)

  1. Poor problem solving skills
  2. Poor time management and organizational skills
  3. Insincere
  4. Lack of risk aversion
  5. Lack of curiosity
  6. Communication breakdowns
  7. Overconfident
  8. Inflexible
  9. Disinterest in your actual service/product even though there may be interest in your accomplishments as a person or professional (translation: wants a free ride)
  10. Technophobic (this will interfere with your own time management, organizational, and communication skills with said mentor, and beyond)

A cursory look at the above list may reveal that the WhatsApp folks chose well in partnering with Facebook to get their once-in-a-lifetime deal. A deeper look at my list shows how problematic the current propaganda and canon of “truisms” coming from the Silicon Valley blogosphere really is re: the role of entrepreneurship and its divergence from leadership opportunity in a society so hungry for meaning and purpose.

It also shows that it’s time to reevaluate priorities and the mapping of one’s entrepreneurial mission i.e. its soul, NOT its product design, as so many startup wannabe techies are now shortsightedly wont to do. 

It is fortunate that part of the human learning experience means learning when to emulate, stay still, or change course. Our future depends on us collectively learning how to do this better, and how to collectively internalize the right lessons at the right time. It begins with more of us in entrepreneurship, especially women, setting examples and exemplifying the kind of leadership and emotional intelligence we are capable of, that help us ALL make better short term AND long term decisions that will positively affect us globally, technologically, and socially for decades to come. 

Best,

Penina

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The Power of Human Learning Part 4: Social Media & Entrepreneurship

"Social media should be used to grow your network and connect with people that you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet otherwise.Just like working on a “live” relationship, followers need to be engaged and nurtured, not just collected to boost numbers."

- Maria Feola- Magro, 2013, Director of Events at Business Development Institute (BDI) 

"Do you wonder why your productivity has dropped over the past 2 – 3 years? There is a time sink and it’s not television!"

Jeff Bullas, 2011, Digital/Social Media Marketing Strategist

There are often two sides to everything, and there’s usually a way to harness time in all endeavors, including technology use in entrepreneurship. It’s something I learned as an educator and experience daily as an entrepreneur. I advocate using social media for professional reasons and make time to do it myself for that reason. Like many of us, I’ve created an online digital platform across various social channels (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Slideshare, 3 blogs, and About.Me). It’s part of due diligence and maintenance so I try to “keep calm and carry on”; without automating any of it-yet!

In truth, having a digital avatar i.e. a digital footprint and a social media marketing campaign when deploying your Hook or launching your service/product are foregone conclusions in entrepreneurship today.

Why? Several reasons: 

• Social technology sites make us more globally connected, with ramifications for doing more civic engagement as startup entrepreneurs.

• Social technology enables us to provide thought leadership re: present trends and scope of practice in entrepreneurship. That is actually something I’m trying to do when writing blogposts here and elsewhere about relevant topics such as humor in content marketing; my current series on Wordpress. (I’m holding a contest there so please click the word “humor” and read my post for more details! Thanks!)

• Understanding social media helps us implement more humanproductive and customized user experiences when sharing content. We need to curate and share more content that matters and that adds value to the collective conversation, especially in these trying times! 

• Social media by default makes us entrepreneurs all marketers who need to embrace our inner Networking Archetype and become students of buyer personae. That’s why I avidly follow and endorse/recommend Diane Bertolin’s blog, Google+ Posts, and Twitter feed!

• Social channels help us expand our “reach” while simultaneously teaching us (through repeated interactions and analytics of those actions) the art of selling and personal as well as company branding; something seen from the recently launched Kahlua Pinterest Campaign and Curalate’s case study on it, which can be downloaded here.

*DISCLAIMER* I’m not a drinker but I LOVE making my Chocolate Kahlua Cake and Kahlua Cocoa-Pecan Pie! I also put a dash of Kahlua in my chili and brisket recipes…..putting me in the “food porn” demographic Kahlua trying to appeal to now :) 

Readers of my blogposts, especially my latest one (and the previous one) for The Huffington Post already have a sense of what I stand for. Readers of my book, (which will hit stores this week pending the #snowmageddon many of us are enduring), will know that I believe it’s time to embed MORE purpose (not just profit) and philanthropy if possible, into the DNA of all entrepreneurship! It is why I am diligently working on launching The NICE Initiative. 

It is also why I was so impressed with Jennifer Hirsch’s recent article How to Create More Social Entrepreneurswell worth reading and saving to Pocket or Evernote, or both, as I frequently do! 

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” 

Habits are learned, like almost everything else in life. All of human behavior is a seesaw of action —> reaction, and the same is true for our digital avatar’s behavior too.

Social media activity, visibility, and strategy can be learned, which is why I follow Peg Fitzpatrick on Google+ and subscribe to her blog, and do the same for Rebekah Radice, just to name a few. Social media best practices and the philosophy behind it can be learned, which is why I follow Brian Solis on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as Gary Vaynerchuck, whose recent post for Medium spurred this one by Ryan Jenkins on the Business2Community Blog I read regularly. It got me thinking about human learning, social media, and the many intellectual and emotional threads connecting the two.  

Attention Female Entrepreneurs, whom I understand are busy and trying to complete that endless to-do list….but who already have the “helpful gene” and understand the value of collaboration and paying it forward…..It’s time for more of us to make a habit of putting the “social” back in social media by becoming more active there by: 

1. Providing USEFUL information via social media that enhances one’s day; personally and professionally. This can include tips, interesting articles by others, and links to humorous photos/videos/sites that can make your day. I try to do this across my entire digital platform, and maintain a positive and helpful outlook and vibe. I recently started curating content for my public i.e. shared Evernote notebook of interesting and helpful PDFs for women entrepreneurs, which is available on my website, or by clicking here

2. Providing EDUCATIONAL blogposts and promoting them on social media to provide virtual mentorship, something I wrote of in my last post here on Tumblr. I’m trying to do this, and would appreciate any feedback on what kinds of questions and topics you’d like to see in the future. I have learned much from other bloggers, particularly from Marty Zwilling’s blog. In it, he provides practical takeaways from his vast experience and/or from business books he reviews. It’s a great example of virtual mentorship!

3. Providing SUPPORTIVE posts/ forums/threads and expressions of appreciation on their own social media by commenting, re-sharing, and thanking others for their contributions. You can do this when you enhance your Emotional IQ, act human at work, and practice punctuality when posting online. It involves more than refraining from bombarding others with selfies or promo-selfies! I recommend you look at the Twitter feeds of both Rieva Lesonsky and Michelle Glover to see what I mean. I recommend that you visit some of the Google+ Online Communities to see the supportive environments being nurtured….which leads to my final point.

Here’s a real Email exchange from a week ago (cited with permission) between Athaliah Renee Talbot, a fellow female startup entrepreneur who read one of my Google + posts for the Female Entrepreneur’s Lounge (or was it the Women Entrepreneurs Who Change the World?) and commented, prompting me to thank her and invite her to continue the conversation via Email. She did, and a question/answer session ensued, culminating with my response to her statement: 

Penina, 

Hi, thanks for the thoughtful response. I am often unsure how to move forward with developing my business because I am unsure about how to use the technology in a proficient way.

Warmly, 

Athaliah

MY RESPONSE: 

Hi Athaliah,

Thanks for clarifying! I now understand that I am not the business you’re looking for to help you with yours :) I’m in consulting/strategizing, and you seem to be looking for providers of mobile tech and specific video equipment etc. May I then suggest these links…..

http://corp.kaltura.com 

https://www.canva.com/signup

http://mashable.com/2011/04/06/podcast-tips-small-business/

http://offers.hubspot.com/free-trial-ad?source=hspd-ppc-brandname-free-trial-021014 

Good Luck with your quest! 

Best Regards,

Penina

How did I learn about these tips and services? By reading other people’s social media posts, carefully curating content and saving it, and attending networking events/conferences and ASKING questions I had, without fear of censure, so that I could learn. 

Human learning is predicated on asking questions, so that we can discern patterns of acceptable behavior, forge connections between ideas and practice, and understand how the world “works” and how people in our immediate world contribute to its gears. (It’s why my Twitter page wallpaper has a photo of gears.)

The very essence of social interaction is based on wanting to know what someone thinks and feels. Don’t we ask questions or provide information in anticipation of being asked questions on dates and/or interviews? Shouldn’t we do the same via our digital avatars?

What questions are you asking and/or answering by the types of social media posts you generate? How are you contributing to our collective learning process? Where is the digital imprint of your humanity felt the most? 

I wish you less surface and fleeting learning experiences and social interactions in real time and online, and more opportunities to ASK questions and get good responses! 

Best,

Penina

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The Power of Human Learning Part 3: Virtual Mentorship in Entrepreneurship

"In Silicon Valley, it’s easy to end up with a narrow, tunnel-vision view of the work you’re doing and an insular perception of what technology means. It’s easy to get so focused on site data, product reviews, and industry blogs, that even some of the smartest people on the planet, building some of the most world changing products in all of history, often forget that there are actual human beings on the other side of technology."

- Randi Zuckerberg, Author: Dot Complicated

"Mindful Connectivity is what will make social media impact on society. It’s why I created the Pay It Forward Group on LinkedIn. I think there should be “mirrors” built in to our phones and computers so that we can look ourselves in the face before we hit the send button and ask “is this really who I really am?”. Otherwise we are just lost to the isolation that is the darker side of the technology."

- Douglas La Tulipe, CMOS Derivatives Integration Engineer

It’s snowing now for the third time in a week in my neck of the woods. I am tired of all that white. And the shoveling. And the cold. And all those layers. While I enjoy watching the snow and icy terrain in the background when viewing the Winter Olympics on TV, (especially figure skating & snow boarding) I miss being outdoors and seeing the sun, not to mention daylight savings time! How am I coping? Four ways:

1. Maintaining my sense of humor about stuff, or at least trying! 

2. Catching up on my reading.

3. Organizing my Pocket App tags and my Evernote App notebooks for future blogposts, one of which I made free on my website.

4. Getting virtual mentorship (something well known in the world of speech therapy) online via social media.

Outcome? I’m staving off cabin fever and staying even tempered and engaged and productive (I hope!). I’m learning so many practical and psychological insights and takeaways on misc. topics in entrepreneurship and beyond. I’m taking virtual trips, having virtual classes, and augmenting my reality with a virtual overlay, enriching my inner landscape and helping me cognitively harness time.

Through other people’s social media posts, especially on blogs, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn, I’m gaining access to a vast array of thought leadership the likes of which are changing the process of human learning, even as I write this.

To give you a taste of the virtual mentorship offerings out there, I want to share a few tidbits and links worth checking out. Here are some posts that are currently impressing me and on my radar, beginning with Sarah’s post on why writing is an act of bravery. I’ve also learned a lot about human nature such as 8 essential truths about people, the art & science behind one’s digital avatar, 11 life lessons on productivity from Albert Einstein, 12 lessons on perseverance from Amelia Earhart, the power of emotion and big ideas, which TED talks can influence my view on social relationships, how generating value can influence my social media followers, which child-like traits can help me pursue entrepreneurship, how to engage in online psychological warfare with my social media marketing campaign, and love in the time of advertising

Having to stay indoors with WiFi and a steaming bowl of home cooked soup, watching Charlie White and Meryl Davis come in first place in their ice dance routine to the music of Scheherazade is not a bad way to spend a few hours….or a few days as it were :) Or so I keep telling myself!

In truth, I’ve always loved reading. Reading blog posts online satisfies both my inner student and my inner tech girl. Much of what I’m drawn to follows a pattern, and those of you following my blogpsts know how much I love discerning patterns! Nothing is random, something I’ve believed since I was little, and believe even more now when my Email’s inbox, Zite App, and library book wish list all point me in the same direction….

I’m learning so many useful things to help me better balance my humanity and technology in entrepreneurship. It’s the goal of my NICE Initiative, the theme in my book, and the thread weaving together my entire digital footprint. I am following the digital footprint of others and avidly reading their contributions to this thing called life.

I am slowly changing my outlook on how I view disruptive innovation and innovation in general. On the importance of having suspension of disbelief as a startup entrepreneur, not just when watching TV shows or The Lego Movie.  

I’m using this time to curate content the old fashioned way, as I have not yet given in to social media automation where I will lose the ebb and flow of my lessons and my human interaction therein. I’m using this time to file away knowledge gleaned both physically in the “cloud” and mentally in my memory banks, in a more cohesive, sequential manner.

Even more gratifying is that I’m actually retaining and synthesizing much of what I’ve read with my own insights using my NICE lens so that I am paying it forward. I’m “in the zone”, sharing lessons with others on entrepreneurship such as those in my latest article for my weekly column there on myths of entrepreneurship

I’m an educator turned entrepreneur who views virtual mentorship as an asset, not a crutch. It allows one to learn at his/her own pace. It provides thought leadership on a plethora of topics that can make one a more well rounded, knowledgeable individual in today’s iEra of customizable, wearable tech and the paradigm shift to Project Based Learning (PBL). It results in using social media for both profit AND purpose, which has been my raison d’être for working on launching The NICE Initiative.

I don’t know what the future holds re: best practices in digital citizenship and how that will affect human learning in the 21st century. I do know that its impact will be felt across all arenas; education, social technology, medicine, social entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship. I do know that our definition of success is changing  steadily.

Virtual mentorship trends will need to change accordingly to keep up, and help us keep up too; with each other and perhaps with our own content curation. The mind can absorb only so much content, before our hearts urge us to take a stand and start The Journey to make a difference and do work that matters. There comes a crossroads, a point in life when we all feel that calling. 

What stand will you take, and whose teachings will inspire you to do so? 

Penina

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The Power of Human Learning Part 2: Reverse Mentorship’s Role in Success

"The road to success is always under construction."

-Lily Tomlin

"Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school."

- Albert Einstein

The Oxford Dictionary defines success as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose or the attainment of profit”. But what does success really mean to people in today’s globally connected but emotionally fragmented world? For today’s entrepreneur, especially a female entrepreneur? One who by default wears many hats and multi-tasks constantly? For those in the business arena finally getting the message that a better work/life balance involves pursuing purpose AND profit by factoring in the human element i.e. our need to learn from and to connect with others and help them? For those in the educational arena teaching and shaping minds but mistakenly quantifying gains through flawed systems, such as standardized tests and Common Core Standards?

The seeds of success get planted in our brains, in our inner landscape, with each new learning experience and episodic and muscle memory gleaned from our five senses. Mentorship, apprenticeship, teaching, and self-learning all help us plant these seeds.

But reverse mentorship, which has a psycho-social as well as cognitive element, is what nourishes those seeds, giving people the opportunity to play a more active and purposeful role in the collective human learning process.

Reverse mentorship is a term coined by former CEO Jack Welch, who paired his General Electric newer employees with more seasoned ones so that lessons could be exchanged in a more symbiotic and psychologically collaborative and empowering environment. I write more about it in my book, and Lisa Quast writes more about the benefits of reverse mentorship in the workplace as well. 

When you think about, what is reverse mentorship exactly? It’s the opportunity to gain skills you lack while allowing you to actively review what you have learned, and hone your leadership abilities along the way. It’s a chance for you to acknowledge the power of human learning as a two way street whose pedestrians ALL have something to teach each other. It’s a chance to exercise both your mind and your heart by enabling you to raise your Emotional IQ, connect to others purposefully and positively, so that together, you achieve your goals and your version of success. 

Reverse mentorship has intellectual and emotional benefits in that it is undertaken with the understanding that it’s not about a show of power, it’s not about having minions, and it’s not about playing catch-up. It’s about using your different multiple intelligences to grow in learning and humanity, both of which are truly achieved when we help others do the same. I learned this as a speech therapist where mentorship and internships are built into the undergraduate degree and entire graduate school experience.

I learned this as an educational consultant and clinical supervisor in the public school system who bartered with my mentees and engaged in reverse mentorship with them, especially when social technology first launched. I was always a tech-geek, albeit a MacGirl and Apple™ Techie. I say that with pride, and a bit of a strut :) But I needed some help and wasn’t afraid to show vulnerability and that I actually didn’t know it all <gasp>. I wasn’t yet a bona fide entrepreneur or even fledgling marketer like I am now. I was a fill grown adult with habits and preferred ways of doing things when the mobile technology movement took off, so social media took some getting used to. But embracing change, especially disruptive innovation is the raison d’être of successful entrepreneurs, especially ones with flexible, fluid, and forward thinking mindsets. 

So I got help from my mentees. I taught them best practices re: speech therapy, Autism intervention, and special education etc. and they taught me about Facebook, Google +, Twitter, and Pinterest etc. The result? Increased learning on both sides, increased mutual respect and personal feelings of productivity, and increased good will and an overall sense of wellbeing. Viva la reverse mentorship, one of the best kept secrets around! 

Reverse mentorship is a way for human beings to engage in psycho-social checks and balances and keep our hearts open by not letting power go to our heads. As I wrote in my latest article for The Huffington Post,

"Mentorship is a fluid process that begets leadership, imbues power with purpose, and leverages one’s skillset for the greater good."

The same can be said for reverse mentorship; whose added benefit is that it psychologically helps us feel good and subsequently do good simultaneously. How many wars have started because of corrupt people in power feeling that dangerous sense of entitlement or worse, malaise? Think of movie villains and the harm they cause. Think of Darth Vader in Star Wars. Think of Loki in Thor. Think of Spiderman’s best friend Harry. Think of Harry Potter’s nemesis Draco Malfoy. I was deeply bothered by yesterday’s SuperBowl ad for the Jaguar Coupe because 

• The commercial was ALL about men; half the population! We only see a glimpse of the back of a woman’s head at the start, for a millisecond! 

• The commercial’s message was “it’s good to be bad”, and that Brits make the best bad guys. Period. 

HUH? I have to get on my soapbox, just for a few seconds! What kind of gender profiling, culturally insensitive, undermining, uninformed, and oxymoronic message is this? We’ve come so far in teaching our children the value of pursuing good, collaboration, teamwork, and global awareness. I for one was insulted by this commercial, especially as a female educator AND entrepreneur! Especially since the commercial depicted inaccurate video conferencing (but an accurate portrayal of the isolation of those male villains…did you see how they were alone?) I much preferred the awesome commercial and message GoldiBlox sent out to all the men and boys and particularly all the girls and their moms, aunts, grandmothers, cousins, friends, teachers, and neighbors watching the SuperBowl. Talk about reverse mentorship and changing outlooks! 

Siobhan Harmer writes that you can “actually transform your brain’s architecture using positive emotions, consistent focus and practice. Certain thoughts and activities set off strings of synapses between parts of the brain” i.e. rewiring the brain and readying it for your successful outcomes. Your intellect and drive; the two “children” of the brain can start you on that train ride to success. They are traits that are LEARNED, not genetic! See this video clip of a 14 year old girl’s TED Talk for proof. 

Erik Wahl, an artist and entrepreneur also believes that catalysts of success such as “innovation, differentiation and creativity have been wrongly diagnosed as being a genetic trait” as well. I agree with him when he says “It is practice, a discipline skill that everyone has access to tap into.” At a recent Entrepreneur Growth Conference he had participants get up and move around and engage in a geotagging activity, which is really a large scale opportunity for reverse mentorship!

So how does an entrepreneur methodically pursue and engage in productive reverse mentorship to achieve success? Joel Garfinkle has some practical suggestions which you can read here. Victor Hwang, a social entrepreneur I respect and follow online, has some very interesting insights about the 5 rules of success in Silicon Valley that can work anywhere. Carmine Gallo, a “self professed student of the life and career of Steve Jobs” provides a relevant list of seven rules of success. They can be translated into reverse mentorship opportunities, especially if you are trying to learn more about harnessing the power of social media and networking outside your industry; two things I HIGHLY recommend as an entrepreneur.

Another exercise I recommend is that entrepreneurs hone their sense of humor. Why? To increase resiliency of self, and to foster emotional resonance with others who cross your path either as a customer, mentor, collaborator or all three. It’s something I wrote more about in my latest blogpost on Wordpress which you can read here

Pursuing and engaging in successful reverse mentorship, let alone entrepreneurship, hinges on due diligence and doing your homework. That’s where another type of mentorship comes in; virtual mentorship. I touched on it in last week’s post and will write more about that next week. For now, I want to leave you with some food for thought, such as these spot-on 8 essential questions by Scott Anthony for the Harvard Business Review, and this interesting blogpost about how to become a high-impact entrepreneur by Greg Kawere.

I also want to point out that as a mentor and mentee, I always strive for balance, and for becoming more well rounded in my thoughts and actions. That’s why I am working on launching The NICE Initiative for Female Entrepreneurship (TBA). That’s why I encourage you to pursue virtual and actual mentorship and reverse mentorship using learning/networking opportunities and people outside of your industry, your comfort zone, and your realm of experience. That’s why I am so enamored with my Zite App, and am now crushing on the Curious App for iPad too. That’s why I regularly follow the Lifehack blog and subscribe to their Emails. That’s why I try to connect with diverse people from diverse locations, especially on LinkedIn and Twitter. I invite you to connect with me there, and let me get to know you. I’m positive we have much to learn from each other and I welcome the opportunity! 

Best,

Penina

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The Power of Human Learning Part 1: The Need for Mentorship

"Who is on your high council of Jedi knights?"

- Pamela Slim, author, Escape from Cubicle Nation, Title, August 2, 2008 blogpost

"They did not get onto that ladder alone. They are there only because someone helped them take the first step."

- Paul Tough, author, How Children Succeed

January is National Mentorship Month in the USA, although I believe mentorship is needed all year round. I believe that mentorship, when done right, is a two way street one engages in, and is engaged in; at work and at home. I’ve written about mentorship before here in Tumblr, in a post about mentorship vs. sponsorship. You can read it again here if you want to.  I have both given and received mentorship at different points in my life and career as a pediatric speech therapist and then an entrepreneur. It has shaped my outlook and conduct, and my overall learning process. 

Human beings need to be engaged in learning; about themselves and others, to forestall inertial, boredom, arrogance, and stagnant thinking. That’s why we need mentors, and to be mentors for others. 

I write about this extensively in The NICE Reboot, and it’s been a running theme in my blogposts; here, in Wordpress, and in The Huffington Post. One of the most profound essays I ever read on human learning was by Dr. Cherie Carter Scott, author of If Life is a Game, These Are the Rules. In it she lists Ten Rules for Being Human. If there’s ever a time to click one of my many links in my posts for further information, this is it! For those who are purists when it comes to reading blogs, who are still averse to taking “the road less traveled by” (you know who you are but you may not know what you’re missing out on:-) here are her rules: 

The Ten Rules For Being Human by Dr. Cherie Carter-Scott:
1. You will receive a body.
2. You will be presented with lessons.
3. There are no mistakes, only lessons.
4. Lessons are repeated until learned.
5. Learning does not end.
6. “There” is no better than “here.”
7. Others are only mirrors of you.
8. What you make of your life is up to you.
9. All the answers lie inside of you.
10. You will forget all of this at birth.

We all strive to make sense of our humanity and elevate its spark inside us on a daily basis. Another great set of rules about being human can be found in the Marc and Angel Hack Life blog, another worthwhile read. Human learning is a process, and the need for teachers/mentors/guides is embedded in that process, and is integral to its success and outcome. That’s why school is important. That’s why Malala’s story is so important to read; as a woman and an entrepreneur. 

As I wrote in my book:

Education of oneself, and educating others, is predicated on the idea of scaffolding previously learned skills, and applying them to new situations/events one experiences. To that end, it is no surprise that entrepreneurship, known for its atmosphere of fast paced, “carpe diem” unpredictability, has made mentorship positions increasingly pivotal and sought after. Mentors are much coveted and valuable assets for entrepreneurs because:

  • Their experience helps the entrepreneur, especially a newly minted one, make sense of and navigate often unchartered territory; on many levels
  • Their contacts help the entrepreneur expand his/her own network; a real coup in today’s ever expanding virtual address book due to social media
  • Their advice can highlight avenues to leadership by pinpointing the entrepreneur’s own strengths and weaknesses, leading to purposeful searches for other mentors to augment skills sets, strategize how to bridge gaps, and provide support; emotional, financial, and cognitive

Some of the mentorship I received has been virtual, such as what I learned from Steve Jobs. I wrote about him, my first virtual mentor, (when I became a Mac Evangelist in special education in the 90s), in my latest Wordpress post about storytelling. You can read about him and the Apple Macintosh computer (which just turned 30) here. CJ Goulding also showcases the power of virtual mentorship, in a list of 13 life lessons from Steve Jobs in a post for Lifehack, another very interesting blog I follow. James Altucher points out that “everything is a mentor” including books and blogs, in an unconventional post on reinventing yourself. He has been one of my virtual mentors since 2011 when I came across his post on 100 rules for entrepreneurship thanks to my cherished Zite App. Another virtual mentor of mine has been Martin Zwilling, who also writes about the power of mentorship, specifically re: entrepreneurship. 

Some of the entrepreneurial mentorship I received has been “hands on”, which is equally valuable, sometimes more. I want to publicly give thanks again to people who have so graciously and excellently mentored me: Jim Pennypacker my book editor at Maven House Press, Rieva Lesonsky, author and Founder/CEO Grow Biz Media, Pam Slim, author of Escape from Cubicle Nation and Body of Work, who herself writes and speaks of mentoring, Diane Bertolin AKA The Strategist, an Archetypal Consultant for marketing, prolific blogger, and social media expert, and Dave Mosby, author of The Paradox of Excellence and Executive Director of Keiretsu Forum Academy. I have learned so much from each of them! My life, my writings, my inner landscape, and my Theory of Mind are all richer because of them and their teachings.  

As I wrote in my book: 

Entrepreneurship requires the intrinsic ability to adapt to one’s circumstances, while simultaneously finding new ways to positively exploit them, and implement change. It stands to reason then, that a mentor must exhibit characteristics, and execute behaviors, which are in sync with those of this type of mentee, namely improvisation for further innovation; verbally and philosophically. Only then, can the entrepreneur truly benefit from the mentor’s outlook, perspective, and advice.

I have learned that there are several questions I needed to ask myself before pursuing entrepreneurship let alone a mentor. Some of those are universal, and are listed in this post by Henry Afekuana for the Project Eve blog. I also think it’s important to compile a list of traits to seek out in a mentor, before you go out and find one. I listed 10 in my book: 

10 Qualities to Look For-Listed in Descending Levels of Importance:

1. Accessibility: physical and emotional

2. Diverse background and thinking (to help you see other viewpoints)

3. Solution oriented constructive criticism

4. Detail oriented approach to mentoring (follows “the script” and provides guidance for both the basics and minutiae of the process)

5. Well connected and well respected in chosen field

6. Ability to Improvise

7. Sense of humor

8. Initiates-asks questions about your service/product, philosophy, and timeline

9. Collaborative: admits mistakes and “shares the glory”

10. Technologically aware (doesn’t need to be savvy, but needs to be aware and somewhat knowledgeable so as to share common language/ground with you)

 I first learned about the concept of a mentor in a high school English literature class. The prototype for today’s mentor is attributed to Homer’s The Odyssey. It introduces the reader to Mentor, the best friend who protects and raises Odysseus’s son, Telemachaus, while his father is away. Mentorship as a process, was later attributed to Florence Nightingale, who is credited with having founded the nursing profession as we know it.

Mentorship is still a standard practice today, especially in the field of speech-language pathology, (and in many other professions as well), where my union, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has implemented an organic system for evaluating performance, supporting education of best practices, and providing professional “tweaking” by giving

• Constructive criticism (in a humorous, not insulting way)

• Opportunities to emulate a role model

One of my other early virtual mentors and role models has been Guy Kawasaki. I’ve been following him since his pioneering days marketing the Apple Macintosh computer and becoming its first Mac Evangelist. He has written many terrific books I highly recommend, but now I will suggest one; Enchantment. In it on page 28, he lists 12 ways to be a “mensch” i.e. a genuine human being. I think it’s a wise blueprint for a life well lived, and applies to mentors and mentees in particular.

Today’s increasingly complex and competitive workplace demands that people experience “both sides of the table” for better collaboration with others, personal productivity, and innovative problem solving.

Aren’t these the hallmarks of human learning? So that we could take our varied experiences and episodic memories and “connect the dots”?

To be continued……..

Best,

Penina

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Human Learning vs. Machine Learning Part 2: Implications for Global Entrepreneurship

"I am a woman in process. I’m just trying like everybody else. I try to take every conflict, every experience, and learn from it. Life is never dull."

- Oprah Winfrey

"As far as technology itself and education is concerned, technology is basically neutral. It’s like a hammer. The hammer doesn’t care whether you use it to build a house or whether on torture.”

- Noam Chomsky

As someone interested in patterns and how to positively exploit them in entrepreneurship, I don’t know where to look first!  Life has gotten even more interesting these past 2 weeks, on and off the court :) Google acquired Nest, Martin Luther King Day spurred LOTS of food for thought in the blogosphere and beyond, many of us have been hit with a major snow storm and frigid temps, and the Mac is about to turn 30 on January 24, 2014.

All of these events have coalesced into one takeaway: It’s time to act on the ongoing monologs and dialogues about human learning vs. machine learning, and global implications for entrepreneurship.

I’ve said/written this before and feel the need to do again:

Life is about balance; work/life, humanity/technology, Me/We, and architecture/artistry. The more we learn about ourselves and use that to help the world, the better we get at balancing, growing, and sustaining that growth.

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is about that growth. It depicts a pyramid with “self actualization” at the top of it. I studied it as a grad student getting my Master’s degree in speech-language pathology at NYU, and studied it again when I became an entrepreneur. I’m learning more about it right now, while reading Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo From Maslow by Chip Conley. I liked it so much, I put it in my Amazon Collection for others to see!

As I wrote in my latest post on Wordpress (where I am writing a series on storytelling in digital content marketing): 

"Human behavior is about our pervasive reactions to patterns in the environment; social, educational, technological, and cultural, all of which are essentially an agglomeration of what drives our economy."

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an excellent observer, writer, and teacher of human behavior. We just honored him at the national level; a person who exemplified living a life dedicated to moving humanity forward. His life is one we can all learn from, including his inspirational words that live on. I paid tribute to him in my latest article for my Huffington Post column, which you can read here. I also created a Slideshare deck with some of his best quotes, and some quotes of my students with Autism/Special Needs, all of whom teach us about the power of education, tolerance, and being human. 

The human factor is truly what counts in life; professionally and personally. Leveraging our humanity in ALL our pursuits is the key to success, to crafting a lasting legacy, and to self actualization. That’s why this blogpost by Brandon Schaefer got my attention. That’s why I saw the movie Her.

Kyle Vanhemert wrote an interesting piece where he dissects the movie and the process Spike Jonze engaged in to make it. 

"Jonze arrived at a critical insight: Her, he realized, isn’t a movie about technology. It’s a movie about people. With that, the film took shape. Sure, it takes place in the future, but what it’s really concerned with are human relationships."

The human relationship, with ourself, and with others, is what shapes us as sentient beings who can learn from/act on the environment and impose our will on others (in a good way:) Who can drive innovation and collaboration and growth at work. We all have a unique inner landscape that changes with every human experience we have; either in our interactions with others, or our perceptions of our own five senses. That inner landscape is integral to a person psycho-social and intellectual growth. It expands and adapts as we learn, interact, and further develop it and our Theory of Mind; no matter our race, religion, geographical location or socio-economic status.

Technology is a tool that helps us expand our Theory of Mind and actualize/execute what’s in our inner landscape for the collective benefit of humanity….whether it’s used for mass media, mobile devices, social media, Big Data, robotics, or artificial intelligence AKA machine learning. That is the root of disruptive innovation today, no matter what form it takes, or which trajectory. 

When you think of it, The Internet of Things is the de-privatization of the learning processes inherent to the human condition and one’s inner landscape! 

We are all seeing the rise of the machines, pervading our daily personal lives more than ever. The Google-Nest partnership is just the beginning. It will be interesting to see the upcoming technological advances and professional/entrepreneurial opportunities re: new gadgets . Ones that can actually enhance the human experience in today’s tech-driven culture. It will be interesting to see how The Internet of Things (IoT) actually manifests, and what that means for humanity, not to mention the economy.

 Elyse Betters attempts to define The Internet of Things and does it well:

"Connected devices are being handled by automatic systems over a wireless network. The result? You have a smart home, thanks to smart appliances, as well as a smart car and a smart office. In a nutshell: you have a smart life. Say hello to the Internet of Things."

The movie Her, The Internet of Things, the Google acquisition of Nest and its apparent interest in IoT, and Nest’s CEO Tony Faddell have all been on my mind because of what it all portends. Because of what this all reveals about the human drive to learn, and the  interesting truth about our relationship with technology. Because of all the interconnected patterns I see using my NICE lens.

Because Google not only acquired Nest. It acquired the designs and inner landscape of someone who used to be part of the original iPod design team at Apple. Apple has always understood human nature and  how people learn, from day one. You can see it from the 1984 ad. You can also see it from many faces of the Macintosh, and the creativity mantra of the new iPad Air ad. Hence me becoming an official Mac Evangelist in the 90s and a subsequent iPad Evangelist in the education and now entrepreneurship arena too. 

What does machine learning mean for balancing Me/We in an increasingly digitally connected society? For global entrepreneurship opportunities in the education and ed-tech sectors? For job growth in the medical, social services, and mental health sectors; all of which may see booming business as we continue to struggle in earnest with our quest to balance humanity/technology for the greater good? For our personal lives as  our children learn new ways to develop their own Theory of Mind and self concept? 

People have long been speculating on the concept of “self” re: artificial intelligence, AKA Singularity. It’s something that is well displayed and becomes a reality in Her. Which raises more questions. Are our jobs safe from robots? Will machine learning continue to digitally archive our inner landscapes to facilitate human learning and sharing? (Think of what James Cameron portrays in his great movie Avatar;  where the Na’avi people have the ability to upload/download memories/ life experiences for later generations.)

Or will machine learning replace human learning in our attempts to achieve connection and a semblance of control over our entire ecosystem? How will problem solving and self actualization look and feel in the future? How will interconnected “smart” technology affect marketing, something all entrepreneurs need to think about?

Tom Fishburne AKA The Marketoonist humorously tries to answer that last question in his post about the Internet of Things and the future of advertising, which you can read here. I highly recommend it, and his previous one too, for the funny cartoons alone, one of which I’ll show below. 

Sam Volkering recently wrote a compelling post for investing in immersive technology:

"We are all technophiles at heart….Technology wriggles its way into your life whether you like it or not. This happened with the telephone, car, typewriter, personal computer, mobile phone and is now happening with immersive technologies. Every one of these technologies was a solution to a problem. A solution to make life easier in some form or another." 

Problem solving is the catalyst of change and the basic essence of learning; for both human beings and machines. I know this from being an educator/Autism Specialist and ed-tech consultant. I’ve lived this as an MacGirl and entrepreneur. It is why I agree with Steven Levy’s assessment of the iPad and his prediction that tablets will change the world

"The iPad represents an ambitious rethinking of how we use computers. No more files and folders, physical keyboards and mouses. Instead, the iPad offers a streamlined yet powerful intuitive experience that’s psychically in tune with our mobile, attention-challenged, super-connected new century."

It’s not the first time Apple has designed a tech-product aimed at addressing the human learning experience and the basic human need to address pain-points in a holistic manner. As a MacGirl since I was a child, I have seen their design, innovation, and problem solving skills in action, with each new Mac to hit the market. Read Matt Egan’s post about 5 Macs that changed everything, and led up to the technological revolution and social renaissance we are experiencing.

I always believed in Apple’s problem solving framework and vision of humanity and technology coexisting in the same ecosystem and user-interface. Like them, I believe it makes for better learning, social engagement with others, and self actualization. It is why I’m such a fan, professionally and personally! 

I first wrote of the problem solving framework in my 2011 speech therapy article on my Socially Speaking™ Social Skills Curriculum for Young Children with Autism/Special Needs, which you can read here. Drake Baer also wrote about it when he shared Einstein’s problem-solving formula in 2013. CJ Golding touches on it, and its contributions to disruptive innovation in technology, in this list of 13 Inspiring Life Lessons from Steve Jobs.

When you connect all the dots and links I’ve provided in this post today, a pattern emerges. One that shows the importance of diversified experiences for human learning and episodic memory. One that shows the potential power of technology in all its facets, needed to make human learning more multidimensional and interesting. One that highlights the human drive and momentum to learn and change.

I am a technophile, and proud of it! But I never forget that it is the curious, creative, and indomitable human spirit that propels one to harness technology and learn in the first place. And then act on it to help others. That is the ultimate outcome, one I strive for every day. 

Will you? 

Best,

Penina

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Human Learning vs. Machine Learning Part 1: Implications for Entrepreneurship

"The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure , the process is its own reward."
- Amelia Earhart

"The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom."
- Isaac Asimov

It is no secret that I advocate for balancing humanity and technology in pursuit of entrepreneurship, especially in today’s startup culture. We need to remain human in a high-tech world. We need to change our Hunger Games style mindset and embed more civic engagement and social entrepreneurship into the very DNA of our mission statements and business plans from the get go, so that our entrepreneurial trajectory is guided by higher purpose, in addition to profit. We need to be mindful of the importance of both human learning and machine learning; both of which affect our entrepreneurial service/product.

That is why I wrote an Open Letter to the CES in my latest article for The Huffington Post. That is why I am fascinated by artificial intelligence, now called machine learning. I am not alone. Machine learning is on my entrepreneurial radar and should be on yours too. It has practical applications to solving real life problems, which you can read about in Laura Hamilton’s Forbes article here. It has business applications you can learn more about in Mark Van Rijmenam’s Smart Data Collective blog post here.  There is even a free course on it at Coursera.org, where you can learn “the most effective machine learning techniques, and gain practice implementing them and getting them to work for yourself.”

Many of Isaac Asimov’s theories of artificial intelligence have not yet come to pass. But they could…sooner than you think. I personally believe that anthropologists and scientists will need to look at his stories and writings down the line, especially those that coalesced into two seminal films I really love; I, Robot, and Bicentennial Man. Both excellent films exemplify the sense of urgency we are starting to have, standing on the threshold of a new frontier in human and social consciousness, and the subsequent machine learning that will ensue as a result.

While his predictions about humanity in 2014 are “wildly off”, according to Brian Merchant’s smartly written post in the hip Motherboard blog, Asimov’s understanding about the role of technology in supporting human learning and adaptibility is spot on, in my opinion. I especially like Merchant’s turn of phrase, which also makes my point:

"He reminds us that there was a time when scientific optimism and social egalitarianism helped build a pretty idealistic vision of the future—and if we’re willing to do some heavy tinkering, it might technologically be within our grasp."

Human learning is a life long process for the optimistic knowledge seekers in all of us. It’s the result of what is gleaned from our perceptions from our five senses, and our ability to cognitively harness time and technology, and make them work for us. To forge new pathways of thinking due to the brain’s elasticity and infrastructure, being mapped as I write this. Human learning hinges on the brain’s ability to form and catalog dendrites and synapses which are emerging, “firing”, and changing our “inner landscape on a daily, if not hourly basis. To open our minds to new ideas. To open our minds to being receptive to change and growth, as well as acting on it. How? By challenging the status quo; internally and externally.

This is the true essence of human learning, a divine gift of harnessing creativity and resiliency to move forward in life and offset inertia and stagnant thinking.

That’s why I am such an Apple™ fan, MacGirl, iPad Evangelist, and “techie”! One who was part of the Apple™ ecosystem early on; as an ed-tech consultant and trainer/keynote speaker since the 90s. I started raving and educating others about their software and have since graduated to iOS Apps.

Why? Because I understood right away what Apple only showed the world today……technology use (when used wisely) is not just about consumption, it is about creating. Creating what? New learning experiences. New frontiers for intellectual, emotional, and economic growth.

Human learning hinges on creativity! It takes the architecture (infrastructure of technology, behavior i.e. routines/habits, and episodic memories) of life and synthesizes it with a person’s experiences, dreams and aspirations, perceptions gleaned from the five senses, and beliefs, rendering an artistic tapestry that becomes our Story. Watch the new iPad Air commercial to see what I mean. (More on that in a bit). 

Human learning is thus both an optimistic endeavor and outcome of being optimistic. It’s an outcome and result of being open to new ideas and experiences. It is enhanced by one’s IQ and Theory of Mind, both of which, when exposed to technology (especially when wielded wisely) can facilitate and nurture the human mind. To foster creativity, communication, and innovation, which in turn can all nurture the minds of others. This is something I have seen again and again as a pediatric speech therapist/ Autism Specialist and student of human behavior. Now as an educator turned entrepreneur. 

 Remember the other Apple™ commercial that went viral, the Macintosh marketing campaign in 1997; the famous ad Think Different? It became the Apple™ Mission Statement, and its famous mantra its social cause: 

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Those words really resonated with me during formative years in my life; professionally and personally. You can find Steve Jobs speaking those words on YouTube and/or by clicking here. That ad resonated with me so, because of its inherent message, and its awesome storytelling through visual imagery. Who can forget Amelia Earhart in front of her plane, or Pablo Picasso painting a bull?! That commercial takes on particular relevance today because: 

• Amelia Earhart, portrayed in the 1997 Apple™ ad, is in the news again. She is still on our minds, especially mine; as a woman, and as an entrepreneur trying to “think different” and act on it.

"We just commemorated the "79th anniversary of the first solo flight from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland, and Amelia Earhart was the pilot of that 1935 flight. Few people know of this aeronautical milestone but mention Earhart’s name and most everyone perks up; yes, they know who she is and they probably have an opinion on how or why she disappeared on her 1937 round-the-world flight. Defying gender roles, Amelia Earhart built an unorthodox career in a man’s world, earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, was a compelling force for women’s rights, and consistently made the Most Admired and Best Dressed women lists, a complex combination that allowed her to have a real and lasting impact."

- Dorothy Cochrane, Huffington Post, January 11, 2014, Why Does Amelia Earhart Still Resonate in the 21st Century?

• Apple™ hit a touchdown again, highlighting the need to synthesize human and machine learning. In a new iPad Air ad unveiled today during the NFL Playoffs, “Your Verse Anthem”, we are given food for thought about the poetry of living, learning, and creating. “What will your verse be?” is the question asked, in this brilliant monolog by Robin Williams from another excellent film I love, Dead Poet’s Society.

Why this question? I don’t particularly care for some of the condescending statements made by Apple™ detractors,  and Daniel Eran Dilger agreed with me, but I do agree with this one: 

"Apple wants to push the creative aspect of its mobile devices, which are still seen largely as consumption gadgets, and this new ad embraces a grand vision of iOS as fertile ground for inspiration and creation. The message is not only that the iPad is capable of true creativity, but also that it’s an aspirational device."

- Darrel Etherington, Tech Crunch Blog, January 12, 2014, Apple Gets Serious About The iPad’s Creative Power In New Ad

I don’t agree with Etherington’s later comment “This is a lifestyle ad”. I think he completely misses the point. Telling the ongoing Apple™ Story, and how it intersects with the Story of others is about learning, not lifestyle. It is about showcasing human learning and our desire to leave a meaningful legacy behind. 

I am in the midst of writing a series of blog posts in my Wordpress Blog about the power of storytelling when planning one’s legacy and visual content marketing strategy to market an entrepreneurial service/product. In my latest post I wrote:

Entrepreneurs can benefit and learn from hearing the stories of others, and from sharing theirs. They should be asking about the Story behind people they meet, and innovation they want to create, disrupt, sustain, leverage, emulate, and share with the world. Human beings all over our globally connected but increasingly emotionally fragmented world are hungry for stories. For meaning. For making sense of the seesaw of humanity and technology that is so crucial to balance in today’s iEra and Digital Age.”

So here’s to the iPad users and the creative, “outside the box” thinkers. Here’s to the thought leaders and purveyors of machine learning who are crafting a legacy, a legacy of learning and change. Here’s to the people working so hard to balance humanity and technology in their professional and personal lives. We need you. We need your Stories. Now more than ever. To add to the conversation. To add to the innovation. To add to the learning experience of what it truly means to be human in a high-tech world.

So do your thing; implement your mission, act on your beliefs, create something new, and do something great. It’s time to build a better version of yourself so that you can bring out the best in others. I’d love to help! Be in touch! 

Website: www.niceinitiative.com

Email: penina@niceinitiative.com

Twitter: @PopGoesPenina

LinkedIn: Penina Rybak

Best,

Penina

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The Care & Feeding of Global Women Entrepreneurs in 2014: My 4 Step Plan from Penina Rybak on Vimeo.

Join the Journey for Change! January is National Mentorship Month in the USA and my book is one of several being released on the topic of female entrepreneurship! “Girls compete with each other. Women empower & support one another.” — Penina Rybak, 1/5/14. My Video contains a 4 step plan for women to follow in 2014 to help become a better startup entrepreneur and promote meaningful and profitable change. My video is also a book trailer for The NICE Reboot: How to Become a Better Female Entrepreneur, to be published by Maven House Press. Created by me, a speech therapist/educator and MacGirl turned social entrepreneur, this video will show you why The NICE Initiative for Female Entrepreneurship can help you map out your trajectory and start your voyage of entrepreneurship. There’s never been a better time to become a woman entrepreneur and promote global change. What are you waiting for?
Penina Rybak MA/CCC-SLP, TSHH
CEO Socially Speaking LLC
Director: The NICE Initiative for Female Entrepreneurship
Website: niceinitiative.com
About.Me Page: about.me/NICE.Initiative/#
Email: penina@niceinitiative.com
Twitter: @PopGoesPenina
Facebook & Google+ Pages: The NICE Initiative for Female Entrepreneurship
YouTube channel: storytellergal